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Fire Research Grants and Cooperative Agreements

Summary

Fire Research Grants and Cooperative Agreements support extramural work to reduce the total burden of fire on the U.S. economy, which is estimated as greater than $300 billion in 2008 or roughly 2 % of the U.S. gross domestic product.[1] The grants provide funding for the development of measurement science to support the Fire Risk Reduction in Communities and Fire Risk Reduction in Buildings Programs. In FY14, there are ten continuing cooperative agreements and fourteen new Fire Grants applications which support measurement science research in fire modeling, materials flammability, predicting the spread of wildland-urban interface fires, fire protection engineering, and firefighting technologies.


[1] John Hall, The Social Cost of Fire, NFPA, Quincy, MA, 2011.

Description

More Information:  Application Information

Objective - To support the objectives of the Fire Risk Reduction in Communities and Fire Risk Reduction in Buildings Programs, which is to achieve a significant reduction in the preventable burden of fire on society, communities, structures and their occupants, and the fire service through the development and implementation of measurement science and standards.

What is the new technical idea? The idea underpinning this project is that innovation in building design, materials, products and fire protection systems requires the establishment of critical solution-enabling tools (metrics, models and knowledge), and a profession properly educated to implement these innovations, that can be facilitated by marshaling the intellectual resources of those beyond NIST, including those in academia and industry. As recommended in the 2003 report of the National Research Council (NRC), there is a need to "fund a program in basic fire research and interdisciplinary fire studies to hasten the development and deployment of improved fire safety practices through more coordinated, better targeted, and significantly increased levels of fire research in the United States." This project supports measurement science, both basic and applied, which addresses key aspects of the national fire problem, consistent with EL's draft Innovative Fire Protection Roadmap and EL's strategic fire-related goals and programs. This project does not support product development.

What is the research plan? This project provides grants which support measurement science research in EL’s fire-related program areas.  This project may also support Post-Doctoral Research Associates in association with the National Research Council's Post-Doctoral Program as appropriate.  The cooperative agreements support critical research in the two fire-related EL programs.  The research plan for each of the grants is outlined in each of the individual grant proposals and is too much information to provide here.  The grants are generally not integrated except in the sense that they support critical areas in EL’s two fire related programs.  Support of Post-Doctoral Research Associates through this project is decided by the Fire Research Division Group leadership (Group Leaders, Deputy Chief and Chief of the Division). 

An annual notice provides information on the availability of grant funds, applicant eligibility, program objectives, and selection criteria is issued in the Federal Register when funds are appropriated by Congress.  As outlined in the Federal Register, proposals are sought that support specific objectives of the division.  Grant awards are competitive and are based on a review and selection process.  The process starts with submission of proposals.  The review for a particular grant or cooperative agreement is coordinated by a NIST staff member (Federal Program Officer or FPO), who is selected by the project Principal Investigator.  A minimum of three subject matter technical experts are selected as reviewers.  At a minimum, one reviewer must be external to the Fire Research Division.  Potential reviewers are asked to not complete the review if there is a conflict of interest that would prevent objective evaluation of the proposal.  Reviewers are asked to supply detailed comments to support their numerical ratings of the proposals.  The comments will help inform the decision-making on the proposal submission and are forwarded to the authors of the proposal.  The identity of reviewers is confidential.  The criteria follow NSF’s National Science Board approved merit review norms.

Reviewers are asked to use four proposal evaluation criteria to rate the proposals, including the technical merit, the potential impact of the results, staff and institutional capability to do the work, and the match of the budget to the proposed work.  To evaluate the technical merit, reviewers are asked to assess the clarity, rationality, organization, and innovation of the proposed work, and assign a numerical score of 0 to 35 points.  Reviewers are asked to assess the potential impact and the likelihood of technical application of the results to the national fire problem, and assign a numerical score of 0 to 35 points.  A link to EL’s website with its strategic fire-related goals, programs, and projects is provided.  Reviewers are asked to evaluate the quality of the facilities and experience of the staff to assess the likelihood of achieving the objective of the proposal, and assign a numerical score of 0 to 15 points.  Reviewers are asked to assess the budget against the proposed work to ascertain the reasonableness of the request, and assign a numerical score of 0 to 15 points.

The proposal selection process occurs in June at a Panel meeting with Fire Research Division Deputy Chief, Program Managers, and Group Leaders.  Subject matter experts may be invited to participate in the discussion as appropriate.  FPOs explain the reviewers’ findings and recommend acceptance or rejection.  The Panel discusses proposals and the FPO answers questions to clarify proposal details.  The Panel ranks the proposals and establishes a cutoff.  The recommendations are forwarded to EL Headquarters for concurrence.

Major Accomplishments

Outcomes:

  • Improvements to the Wildland Fire Dynamics Simulator (WFDS) fire modeling tool including enhanced capabilities and accuracy, and improved physics, lists of flammability characteristics of ornamental plant in the southeast U.S.A., a simple fire spread modeling tool, a GIS-based tool for creating WFDS input files as documented in numerous publications.5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
  • Developed a differential-scanning-calorimetry-based procedure for measuring the heats of decomposition and heat capacities of homogeneous combustible solids using very small samples on the order of mg.
  • Improvements to the Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) fire modeling tool including enhanced capabilities and accuracy, improved physics, new schemas, and implementation of revision control and configuration management as documented in numerous publications.12 Significantly improved and new subroutines in the Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) including the HVAC network model, soot deposition on walls, droplet evaporation and thermodynamics, improved thermophysical properties of liquids and gases, species database and new combustion model data structures and architecture, new reaction rate algorithms and input methodologies to enhance modeling of extinction, suppression, toxic species formation and re-ignition phenomena in FDS version 6,13 which has supported codes and standards development worldwide.14
  • A new paradigm for building fire performance and a new approach to risk-informed performance-based analysis and design has been developed. Analysis includes a comparison of the International Fire Engineering Guidelines (IFEG), BS7974, ISO TR13882, and the SFPE Engineering Guide to Performance-Based Fire Protection Design.15

[5] McNamara, 2007 Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) International User Conference.

[6] McNamara, 2007 Indigenous Mapping Network Conference; McNamera, 2007 Washington Geographic Information Council Quarterly Meeting.

[7] McNamara, "Enhancing the Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) for Modeling WUI Fires," 2006 Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) Northwest Users Conference.

[8] Mell, Manzello, Maranghides, Butry, Rehm, "Wildland-Urban-Interface Fires: Current Approaches and Research Needs," International Journal of Wildland Fire, to appear

[9] Rehm, Mell, "A Simple Model for Wind Effects of Burning Structures and Topography on WUI Surface-Fire Propagation," accepted for publication in the International Journal of Wildland Fire.

[10] Rehm, "The Effects of Winds from Burning Structures on Ground-Fire Propagation at the Wildland-Urban Interface," Combustion Theory and Modeling. 12:477-496, 2008.

[11] Rehm, Evans, "Physics - Based Modeling of Wildland - Urban Interface Fires," in "Remote Sensing and Modeling Applications to Wildland Fires," a book in Geosciences Series published by Springer-Verlag and Tsinghua University Press.

[12] Floyd, J.E. and McGrattan, K.B., "Extending the Mixture Fraction Concept to Address Under-Ventilated Fires,"Fire Safety Journal, 44, 291-300, 2009.

  • Floyd, Jason, Coupling a Network HVAC Model to a Computational Fluid Dynamics Model Using Large Eddy Simulation, Interflam 2010.
  • Floyd, J and McDermott, R, Modeling Soot Deposition Using Large Eddy Simulation with a Mixture Fraction Based Framework, Interflam 2010.
  • McGrattan, K., Hostikka, S., Floyd, J., Baum, H., Rehm, R., Mell, W., and McDermott, R., "Fire Dynamics Simulator (Version 5): Technical Reference Guide Volume 1: Mathematical Model," NIST SP 1018-5, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 2009.
  • McDermott, R., McGrattan, K., Hostikka, S., and Floyd, J., "Fire Dynamics Simulator (Version 5): Technical Reference Guide Volume 2: Verification," NIST SP 1018-5, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 2009.
  • McGrattan, K., Hostikka, S., Floyd, J., Klein, B., and Prasad, K., "Fire Dynamics Simulator (Version 5): Technical Reference Guide Volume 3: Validation," NIST SP 1018-5, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 2009.
  • McGrattan, K.B., Klein, B., Hostikka, S., and Floyd, J.E., "Fire Dynamics Simulator (Version 5): User's Guide," NIST SP 1019-5, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 2009.
  • Floyd, J. and McGrattan, K. "Validation of A CFD Fire Model Using Two Step Combustion Chemistry Using the NIST Reduced-Scale Ventilation-Limited Compartment Data," Fire Safety Science - Proceedings of the 9th International Symposium, International Association of Fire Safety Science, Karlsrhue, Germany, 2008.
  • Floyd, J., "Multi-Parameter, Multiple Fuel Mixture Fraction Combustion Model for the Fire Dynamics Simulator", NIST GCR 09-920, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 2008.
  • Floyd, J.E. and McGrattan, K.B., "Multiple Parameter Mixture Fraction with Two Step Combustion Chemistry for Large Eddy Simulation," Interflam 2007, Royal Holloway College, UK, September 2007.

[13] McDermott, R., McGrattan, and Floyd. A Simple Reaction Time Scale for Under-Resolved Fire Dynamics. in 10th International Symposium, IAFSS, University of Maryland, June 19-24, 2011.

  • Vaari, J. Floyd, and R. McDermott. CFD Simulations of Co-Flow Diffusion Flames. In 10th International Symposium, IAFSS, University of Maryland, June 19-24, 2011.
  • Williamson, C. Beyler, and J. Floyd. Validation of Numerical Simulations of Compartments with Forced or Natural Ventilation Using the Fire and Smoke Simulator (FSSIM), CFAST, and FDS. In 10th International Symposium, IAFSS, University of Maryland, June 19-24, 2011.
  • Floyd, Coupling a Network HVAC Model to a Computation Fluid Dynamics Model Using Large Eddy Simulation. In Proceedings, Fire and Evacuation Modeling Technical Conference, Baltimore, MD, August 15-16, 2011.
  • Floyd, Jason, Coupling a Network HVAC Model to a Computational Fluid Dynamics Model Using Large Eddy Simulation, Interflam 2010.
  • Floyd, J and McDermott, R, Modeling Soot Deposition Using Large Eddy Simulation with a Mixture Fraction Based Framework, Interflam 2010.
  • Floyd, J.E. and McGrattan, K.B., "Extending the Mixture Fraction Concept to Address Under-Ventilated Fires,"Fire Safety Journal, 44, 291-300, 2009.
  • McGrattan, K., Hostikka, S., Floyd, J., Baum, H., Rehm, R., Mell, W., and McDermott, R., "Fire Dynamics Simulator (Version 5): Technical Reference Guide Volume 1: Mathematical Model," NIST SP 1018-5, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 2009.
  • McDermott, R., McGrattan, K., Hostikka, S., and Floyd, J., "Fire Dynamics Simulator (Version 5): Technical Reference Guide Volume 2: Verification," NIST SP 1018-5, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 2009.
  • McGrattan, K., Hostikka, S., Floyd, J., Klein, B., and Prasad, K., "Fire Dynamics Simulator (Version 5): Technical Reference Guide Volume 3: Validation," NIST SP 1018-5, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 2009.
  • McGrattan, K.B., Klein, B., Hostikka, S., and Floyd, J.E., "Fire Dynamics Simulator (Version 5): User's Guide," NIST SP 1019-5, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 2009.
  • Floyd, J. and McGrattan, K. "Validation of A CFD Fire Model Using Two Step Combustion Chemistry Using the NIST Reduced-Scale Ventilation-Limited Compartment Data," Fire Safety Science - Proceedings of the 9th International Symposium, International Association of Fire Safety Science, Karlsrhue, Germany, 2008.
  • Floyd, J., "Multi-Parameter, Multiple Fuel Mixture Fraction Combustion Model for the Fire Dynamics Simulator", NIST GCR 09-920, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 2008.
  • Floyd, J.E. and McGrattan, K.B., "Multiple Parameter Mixture Fraction with Two Step Combustion Chemistry for Large Eddy Simulation," Interflam 2007, Royal Holloway College, UK, September 2007.

[14] Building Codes:

  • The ICC International Performance Code is completely dependent upon the existence of validated fire models.
  • The ICC International Building Code recently considered code change proposals whose sole technical justification was the results of FDS simulations (e.g., Boeing Co. simulated large (10 MW) fires in large volume aircraft assembly structures).

Standards:

  • NFPA 72 (Smoke Alarms) includes PBD modeling as a component to determine detector spacing for automatic detection systems.
  • NFPA 130 (Passenger Rail and Tunnel Safety) requires validated fire model calculations as part of the design of tunnel ventilation.
  • NFPA 802 (Fire Protection Practice for Nuclear Reactors) requires validated fire models for design calculations.
  • The (NFPA) Fire Protection Research Foundation has recently highlighted the use of FDS in six major studies that it has sponsored with industry including, Smoke Detector Performance for Ceilings with Deep Beam Pockets, Siting Requirements for Hydrogen Supplies, Modeling of Fire Spread in Roadway Tunnels, Smoke Detection of Incipient Fires, Smoke Detector Spacing for Sloped Ceilings, and Smoke Detector Spacing for Corridors with Deep Beams. All of these studies were motivated by technical issues originating with the above NFPA standards.
  • ASTM E1355 and ISO (ISO/TC 92/SC 4) have published guidance documents on evaluating the performance of fire models. CFAST and FDS development and V&V supports these international standards.

[15] Alvarez, A. and Meacham, B.J., "Test-bed Environment Process for Assessing the Appropriateness of Engineering Tools to be Used in Performance-Based Design Applications," to be published in Proceedings, 9th SFPE International Conference on Performance-Based Codes and Fire Safety Design Methods, SFPE, Bethesda, MD, June 2012.

Created November 1, 2011, Updated October 16, 2019